With an offer in 1961 to re-join the repertory theatre group, this time in Jersey,
with newly renamed band The Offbeats, an apprehensive Justin and Nigel ask for permission
from their headmaster, Dr. Craig, to have an extended summer recess to take up the
engagement. With a flat refusal and clear warning of the repercussions of not following
his orders, the defiant pair nevertheless went ahead, well, “what could he do??”
Eagerly, the new Offbeats prepare for their trip to Jersey for an 11 week and 3
days summer season at the Springfield Theatre, St. Helier.
Here, the boys have a welcome break with the rest of the production during rehearsals.
The band discuss the forthcoming show with a member of the rep company, from left
to right, Justin, Rikki Dare, Jeff, Ken, rep, Nigel. Rikki, a singer in the show
was often backed by the Offbeats.
The group takes time out to pose for photos with Rikki and chat about how well the
shows are being received. At this point, Keith was still to join them over in Jersey.
Note the distinctive band uniform, red, white and black stripes for those of you
watching in black and white!
Keith is finally welcomed by the band (Justin centre), here seen waiting at the bus
stop in St. Helier, not yet being kitted out! Note also, the flyers stuck to their
guitar cases and posted through the letterboxes of all the local premises.
Here, Keith poses in the grounds of the Springfield Theatre
The Indians were sending signals, and they were all good, as the appreciative audience
lapped up Kool for Kats. For the eagle-eyed amongst you, note the spelling of Kats,
two years before Mssrs Pinder and Thomas took their pride over to Hamburg.
Keith’s travelling photo-album contains a full set of group signatures, including
Rikki Dare. This is the earliest one of Justin’s that I’ve seen.
Here’s a shot of Rikki, on stage at the Springfield, one can only speculate the
storyline that this scenery accompanies. Maybe it’s from the follow-up show, Bustles
To Beatniks. Unfortunately, there are no shots of the Offbeats on stage at the Springfield.
Enjoying the summer sunshine, the boys take time out to relax and explore the island.
Careful Justin, one slip and it’ll be Nights in White Linen courtesy of Jersey Royal
Every Sunday evening, the band plus Rikki would head over to The Watersplash at St.
Ouen’s Bay, a large pub / dance hall. A number of photographs were taken during
their shows, unfortunately many too dark to see clearly.
One night, it was announced that a talent competition would be held at The Corbiere
Hotel, of course Justin’s rendition of On A Slow Boat To China would earn them first
Returning triumphantly home, they still had to face the wrath of Dr. Craig for disobeying
him, well a few detention sessions was a fair price to pay for an unforgettable
summer and experience that would cement Justin’s desire for stardom.
Back to St. Barnabas’ Church Hall on 16th September 1961 for another performance.
Has anyone else noticed the significance of St. Barnabas in musical history? As
well as Justin’s visit here, St. Barnabas is the church right opposite the Carlton
Ballroom, venue of the Moodies rehearsals and very first live performance, and, also
the church in Penny Lane, Liverpool where Paul McCartney was choirboy!
The Offbeats continued to perform regularly, as seen by these flyers for Club X at
the Walcot Common Room in December 1961 and January 1962.
By the Spring, 1962, Keith and Ken had departed and the band had now become The Whispers.
Photos courtesy of Keith Panting and Nigel Norman.